I think we can all agree that social media has changed the athlete/fan experience. At its best Twitter offers a glimpse inside the lives of your favorite player. At its worst, a thoughtless tweet or two can damage a reputation. Enter Baltimore Ravens S Ed Reed.
Over the past two weeks, the Pro Bowl safety has taken to the social media site to speak on his contract status and complain about media coverage. Reed was absent from mandatory minicamp and decided to send this message to the team:
“Back home with my son, he’s riding his bike and I’m doing yard work! Tell the bosses I’m comfortable!”
That tweet drew national media attention and harsh criticism from some of his followers. He even took some of those fans to task. Reed is entering his 11th season and the final year of of the six-year contract extension he signed in 2006, an extension that made him the highest paid safety in the NFL.
Here’s my message to Ed and those fans:
The word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic”. Fans are passionate about their team. Fans take the good with the bad. When the team is frustrated, fans are frustrated. Fans are like family; they will praise you on your best day and give you grief on your worst. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t want you on their team. Fans spend money to see you play. They just want to see their favorite players on Sunday, no matter what.
Players are human too. They experience the same pressures and make the same life choices. At the end of the day, Football is a business and playing football is their job. Players have to make decisions that are best for them and their families. Not many fans understand the business side. But, the players do and they try to avoid getting caught up in it. They just want to play.
Some say Reed had a down year in 2011. Maybe. But, this doesn’t negate what he’s meant to the Ravens. Reed started every game in 2011. He made 52 tackles and intercepted three passes during the regular season. His 57 career interceptions are tied for 11th all-time.
He joined Glenn Younes on 105.7 The Fan yesterday and hinted at holding out. “The only way we protect ourselves, the only way a player gets what he wants is by holding out,” Reed said. If he plays in 2012, he will earn a base salary of $7.2 million. Reed’s actions of late have indicated he is frustrated with not being offered another extension. Unfortunately, he may have to wait his turn. The Ravens still have to address the contracts of Ray Rice and Joe Flacco.
No matter the sport, players and fans tend to have strong opinions. Fans should remember, however, that even we call a team “Our Team”, the players ultimately play for the person writing the check. While we want them to play and play well, there’s a personal and business side that we should be mindful of when reacting or commenting, especially if we don’t know the whole story (i.e, contract details, etc). That door swings both ways, though. Players should also be mindful that some information you share leaves the door open for critics. Bottom line: when you have a powerful weapon in your hands, be mindful of how you use it.